How Football Is Supporting Our Mental Wellbeing
By Peter Daly, Solicitor in Medical Negligence, and founder of the Talking Toffees.
World Mental Health Day is happening on Monday 10 October.
The theme for this year, as set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’ and they’re asking you to look after ‘Number 1’ when it comes to your mental health.
With everything that is happening around us right now, it can be easy to feel powerless, but there are aspects of our life we can manage and control.
The campaign wants people to embrace what is in their power to start doing, stop doing or change – something that will support their mental health.
Talking Toffees was established to bring people closer together, to tackle isolation, both physical and emotional.
Talking Toffees was created in July 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to socialise was removed from our everyday lives.
Personally, one of the things I was missing was going to the football with my brother and father, as well as meeting friends before and after the match. It was not the football itself, that was irrelevant in the context of the pandemic, but I missed my family and friends. The match on the weekend was when I caught up with them, walking to the ground, catching up on our week and moaning about our team’s fortunes.
A few months passed and lockdown restrictions began to ease; one of the first restrictions to be eased was being able to go back out and exercise.
So, we used social media as a platform and reached out to the community to see who would be interested in joining us for a weekly game of football. One year on, we have now evolved into a formal team and Talking Toffees is now an FA affiliated football club.
The conversation mostly revolves around the football, but more importantly, we are creating a network for people to feel comfortable to discuss mental health.
We have frequent football podcasts, inviting Everton fans from all over the world to come on and discuss what is on their mind. The conversation mostly revolves around the football, but more importantly, we are creating a network for people to feel comfortable to discuss mental health with strangers, which in turn often leads to newfound friendships.
We also have two weekly games of football, a 7-a-side on a Wednesday night in South Liverpool, the other an 11-a-side on a Friday night in North Liverpool, where we compete in the Liverpool Inclusion League. We are an open age group men’s team, open to all who wish to participate, irrespective of ability, whether it is simply to exercise or meet new likeminded people.
We have found that connecting with other people has helped a huge number of our group’s mental wellbeing.
As it is World Mental Health Day on 10th October and colleagues may be struggling, we wanted to share some tips to keep well. Always talk and do what makes you happy. There is always somebody who is ready to listen to your story. We have found that connecting with other people has helped a huge number of our group.
Another major factor for our group has been becoming physically active, it does not have to be football, a walk in the park, swimming, cycling, anything that gets you moving and out and about can help.
We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support from Fletchers
We first received funding for the team football kit, and this allowed the team to participate in competitive football matches and increase the sense of belonging within the group.
We also received funding to support our end of season awards night. It was a special evening, celebrating the team completing its first ever season. We were able to hand out eight awards to recognise the achievements of the players.
From the major to the minor, Fletchers have ensured we have been kitted out and have the necessary equipment, from first aid kit, football pump, kit bag, ball bag, to the team football kit
We are an inclusive men’s open age group and men from across the Merseyside region are welcome to come along and join our ever-expanding group.
For those interested, they can simply message us via Twitter @talking_toffees or email firstname.lastname@example.org.